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Showing posts from March, 2011

An Introduction to Ma Rainey

Credited with recording the first blues song "Crazy Blues" in 1923, Ma Rainey was a Huge influence on performers like Bessy Smith.
She began performing at the age of 12 or 14, and recorded under the name Ma Rainey after she and Will Rainey were married in 1904. They toured with F.S. Wolcott’s Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later formed their own group called Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. From the time of her first recording in 1923 to five years later, Ma Rainey made over 100 recordings. Some of them include, Bo-weevil Blues (1923), Moonshine Blues (1923),See See Rider (1924), Black Bottom (1927), and Soon This Morning (1927).Ma Rainey was known for her very powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a ‘moaning’ style of singing similar to folk tradition. Though her powerful voice and disposition are not captured on her recordings, the other characteristics are present, and most evident on her early recordings, Bo-weevil Blues and Moon…

Early Recordings from the New York Stage 1890-1908

Early Harmonica Blues Recordings zip

The first recordings of harmonicas were made in the U.S. in the 1920s.These recordings included “race” music, intended for the African-American market of the southern states with solo recordings by DeFord Bailey (who appeared on the first episode of the WSM Barn Dance after it had changed its name to the Grand Ole Opry), duo recordings with a guitarist Hammie Nixon,Walter Horton, Sonny Terry, jug band performers such as Jaybird Coleman, as well as hillbilly styles recorded for white audiences, byFrank Hutchison, Gwen Foster and several other musicians. There are also recordings featuring the harmonica in jug bands, of which the Memphis Jug Band is the most famous. But the harmonica still represented a toy instrument in those years and was associated with the poor. It is also during those years that musicians started experimenting with new techniques such as tongue-blocking, hand effects and the most important innovation of all, the 2nd position, or cross-harp.
Download Early Blues Harm…

Free Mp3 Pre War Blues Collection as Zip File

Fifty great pre war era blues performances in MP3 format. Classic stuff from well-knowns like Charley Patton and Blind lemon Jefferson, as well as lots of cool music from lesser-knowns too like Geeshie Wiley and Dick Justice.
Click here to download the collection

The Skillet Lickers

The Skillet Lickers, one of the most exciting early bands to record, were from North Georgia, an extremely fertile area for old time music in the 1920's. The first line-up was Gid Tanner,Riley PuckettClayton McMichenand Fate Norris. Between 1926 and 1931 they recorded 88 sides forColumbia.
The Skillet Lickers Vol.1

A Musical History of Vaudeville

By the 1880s, the Industrial Revolution had changed the once rural face of America. Half of the population was now concentrated in towns and cities, working at regulated jobs that left most of them with two things they never had back on the farm – a little spare cash and weekly leisure time. These people wanted affordable entertainment on a regular basis. Most variety shows were too coarse for women or children to attend, and minstrel shows were already declining in popularity. In a world where phonographs, film, radio and television did not yet exist, something new was needed to fill the gap.
A History of The Musical
Vaudeville
by John Kenrick

The Definitive Charley Patton

The Seminal Blues Singer/Guitarist of early recorded delta blues. Much has been written. Some of it may even be true.

The Definitive Charley Patton Disc 2

May Irwin - Broadway Recordings from the 1890s

May Irwin's buxom figure was much in vogue at the time and combined with her charming personality, for more than thirty years she was one of America's most beloved performers.
The Music of Irwin May Late 1890s

Edison Cylinder Recordings from the Early 1900s

Really Chicago's Blues

Over the next few days I'm going to be digitizing the rare blues record on Adelphi called Really Chicago's Blues featuring a lot of pre war artists like Johnny Shines, Walter Horton, Honeyboy Edwards, Big Joe Williams and Sunnyland Slim. I'm psyched! This is such a great record (double album actually) with terrific, casual performances. The record has a real intimate, living room kinda feel too. Here is one track just to whet the appetite. Enjoy!
Two Long Freight Trains

Fiddlin' John Carson

Recorded on June 13 or 14, 1923 in Atlanta. Polk Brockman ran a furniture store in Atlanta and in order to market phonographs had developed a flourishing business selling "race" 78rpm recordings. In 1923, Ralph Peer arrived in Atlanta looking for black talent to record. Brockman imposed on him to record local fiddle champion Fiddlin' John Carson. Peer recorded Carson, but was unimpressed and issued this recording without even a label to the Atlanta market only. This first issue sold out and when Brockman ordered more copies, Peer realized there might be gold in them thar hills. This recording is acknowledged as the first country tune to be recorded and marketed on a commercial basis.

Little Old Cabin In the Lane

Geeshie Wiley

Geeshie Wileywas a female United Statesbluessinger and guitar player. She recorded six records in the early 1930s. There are no known photographs or images of the artist in existence.
Her song "Last Kind Words" was included in the film Crumb.

Those familiar with her know that she is one of the rarest and best country blues musicians ever to be recorded. I've included 4 out of her six titles for download

Download the music of Geshie Wiley

King Solomon Hill

Paul Whiteman

In honor of Paul Whiteman's birthday (born March 28, 1890). Enjoy!


Paul Whiteman Orchestra - Magnolia

The Mysterious Death of Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon Jefferson was the best selling early black blues singer in the US, where he recorded over a hundred titles for the Paramount label between 1926 and his untimely death in 1929.
To this day, little is known about his life, and his death remains a mystery.
Here is one version of how he died:
Lemon died shortly after meeting with his record company in Chicago, where they paid him some cash royalty money. I believe Lemon's own guide robbed him as he led Lemon back to the train station. Since Lemon was nearly totally blind, I bet the guide was able to take Lemon past the regular waiting area, to a more remote location near the tracks and robbed him. Poor Lemon was found the next day, in the snow by the tracks--many think that he had a heart attack.
And a few other possibilities:
His death certificate said he died "probably (from) acute myocarditis"
Some say he froze to death on the streets of Chicago.
Some have said that Jefferson died from a heart attack after being at…